“There is no good, no bad. The world simply is.” Ironically, this nihilistic sentiment is expressed by the supposed moral compass of Legend. Brian Helgeland’s sixties gangster movie follows a pair of homicidal East Londoners—twins Ronnie and Reggie Kray. Hair-slicked back, clean-shaved, and outfitted in a tasteful suit, Reggie is the handsome one, charming and sympathetic. His foil and lead weight is twin brother Ronnie, an impulsive paranoid schizophrenic distinguished by glasses, an asymmetric nose, bad teeth, and avowed homosexuality. Tom Hardy plays both twins. His performance is a testament to charisma being able to vivify a movie from a dead genre. Glamorizing gangsterism, Legend falls into the trappings of the typical mob film. The explosions of its temperamental anti-heroes are predictable. The violence is graphic and reaches sensational heights in one key scene. Despite a flurry of “innits” and “yeahs,” Helgeland’s funny script nevertheless seems like it’s boilerplate. Credit DP Dick Pope for a few well composed tracking shots. Carter Burwell’s overwrought score butts its head into scenes occasionally; thankfully, the rest of the soundtrack relies on rock-n-roll and pop music. What’s missing is sexuality: Despite all his gay talk, Ronnie is never seen having sex with any of the guys in his posse. And Reggie is never seen making love to his wife (Emily Browning). Nor are there extramarital affairs. The Krays seem to be married to their jobs, and to each other.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White